- Associated Press - Sunday, June 7, 2015

GREENWICH, Conn. (AP) - The Round Hill Store is a throwback to an earlier era. It’s the kind of place that sells duct tape, paint brushes, work gloves, coffee, newspapers and household products.

Built in 1801, it is the oldest retail store in Greenwich, and its owners call it the oldest continuously operated general store in the U.S.

It looks a little worse for wear, but that began to change when the store started a major renovation last month. Actually, there won’t be that much change in the end, the store owners said.

“We want to keep it as close the original as possible,” said John Vanacore, who owns the Round Hill Store with his wife, Robin. “It will be sort of like a little museum. We want to keep it quaint.”

Work began on repairing the exterior of the building and its front porch in May. A new sign with 19th Century-style graphics sign will go up in coming weeks. Interior work, as well as new flooring, will follow.

“The time had come, and we needed to get it done,” said Robin Vanacore.

The upgrades won’t make it look like a typical mini-mart, and the eclectic mix of goods for sale won’t change either, the owners said.

“We have a lot of stuff packed in, because we have to be everything to everybody,” said John Vanacore. “We try to be good neighbors, and it’s good for business.”

The store is the only one in the Round Hill area. Neighborhood residents said they depend on it for food, kitchen essentials and a sense of community. The store harkens back to an old New England tradition.

“There no other places around like it,” said a regular customer, Ginny Gwynn, “You see all the people you know come here.”

The store, which employs five people, also showcases a slice of retail Americana. There’s a 100-year-old cash register and a long counter stocked with candy. Old toys and model trains decorate the store. John Vanacore has a side business buying and selling model trains.

The building first went up on the Knapp family farm sometime around 1801. In addition to selling food and necessities, the store served as the post office for the neighborhood. When the road came through around the early 1900s, the old store was transported a few dozen yards to its current location.

The building itself is in good shape.

“It’s pretty solid,” said Robin Vanacore, “The bricks inside the walls were all in good shape. They’re now being used for the footings in front.”

As workers went about their labors this week, checking occasionally with the owners on the process, store patrons ordered sandwiches and chatted with the employees.

Lisa Weinkauf, buying sandwiches at lunchtime, said she was pleased to see the store undergoing renovations — without changing its essential nature.

“It’s been here since the 1800s, where else can you find something like that?” she asked.

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Information from: Greenwich Time, http://www.greenwichtime.com

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